Exploring the 3 Main Stages of Treatment for Heroin Addiction

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Seeking treatment for heroin addiction is the best first step you can take toward taking back your life, and becoming happier, healthier, and drug-free. Fortunately, if you or your loved one is addicted to heroin and wants to become sober, you’ll have several treatment options based on your personal needs, and on what you think might work best for you.

Treatment for heroin addiction can be obtained at either an inpatient center or from an outpatient program. An inpatient center is a residential facility at which you’ll live while you recover fully from addiction. An outpatient program allows you to continue living at home, and requires you to meet with physicians, counselors, and therapists on a regular basis.

If you or someone you care about is dependent on heroin or struggling with overcoming heroin addiction, call our toll-free helpline at 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to speak with an addiction counselor. Our staff will help you locate heroin addiction treatment centers in your area, and connect you with the resources you need to combat addiction.

Here are the three main stages of treatment for heroin addiction, available at most inpatient centers and included with most outpatient programs.

Stage #1: Detox From Heroin

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Depression and anxiety are common heroin withdrawal symptoms.

The first stage of overcoming heroin addiction is detoxification, or detox. The purpose of detox is to cleanse your body fully of heroin, which can cause you to experience one or more withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are your body’s physical way of responding when you no longer provide it with a drug on which it’s become dependent.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone, and may be minor or severe depending on your personal dependency level.

Common heroin withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations

The detox phase can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the treatments offered at your heroin addiction recovery center. For most recovering addicts, the first two days of detox are generally the worst, due to the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Most addiction treatment centers prescribe one or more medications that can help minimize withdrawal symptoms. For instance, methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly prescribed to heroin addicts to help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce heroin cravings.

When researching heroin addiction treatment centers, ask for details about treatments provided during the detox stage. This can help you choose a program designed to safely guide you through detox and withdrawal without major discomfort.

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Stage #2: Therapy and Counseling

When your mind and body start feeling healthier and clearer following the detox stage, you’ll start attending therapy sessions, educational classes, and support groups. The purpose of therapy and counseling is to teach you how to rebuild your life following addiction, along with healthy lifestyle habits that can help you achieve lifelong sobriety.

In addition to bonding with new friends who are also overcoming heroin addiction, you’ll learn how to deal with triggers that might influence you to use heroin again. For example, you’ll learn what to do if you attend a party where heroin is available, and what to do when an old friend convinces you to start using again.

When you check into an inpatient center, you’ll also benefit from recreational therapies that distract you from heroin and allow you to form new interests. For instance, you’ll learn how to use exercise as a way to reduce and manage stress, and new hobbies such as hiking, journaling, or dancing — all of which can help combat negative thinking and improve your lifestyle.

Stage #3: Ongoing Maintenance

After you successfully complete your treatment program to overcome heroin addiction, you’ll receive follow-up care to improve your outcome for lifelong sobriety. This may include going to 12-step meetings, group therapy sessions, or individual therapy sessions.

For the best results, most healthcare experts suggest that recovering addicts receive ongoing maintenance for addiction for at least one year following treatment. Ongoing maintenance is beneficial for addicts in that it provides ongoing support should the risk for relapse present itself.

Getting treatment for heroin addiction doesn’t have to be scary; understand that the staff at heroin addiction treatment centers have your best interests at heart, and are dedicated to helping you become healthier, happier, and sober for life.

If you or someone you love is considering treatment for heroin addiction, call our toll-free helpline at 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to get the resources and answers you need. Our addiction counselors are available around the clock to offer guidance and information about how you can overcome heroin addiction, and get back to living a fulfilling, drug-free life.

the Take-Away

Each stage of heroin addiction treatment is necessary in order to ensure the safety and recovery success of the patient.